Finding a Balance Between Home and Home School

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Sarah Zubiate is planning to homeschool starting mid-August, and she has some advice for those who want to know her plans. (Photos: Caroline LeGates / Teresa Earnest Social / FoodandFemales.com)

By Sarah Zubiate
Founder and Farmer, ZUBI’S

Hi, it’s Sarah Zubiate again! I hope you all enjoyed my first post (and in case you missed it, check it out here). I am so thankful for all the positive comments and wanted to elaborate more in order to answer some of your questions. 

It seems like we are all still in limbo with the uncertainty of COVID. We are constantly reading the news about whether schools are reopening, if businesses are allowed to be open or closed again, and so forth. In the end, we are in this together and hopefully, sooner than later, things will adjust back to a normal, pre-COVID style of life.

The ‘Old’ Normal

During “normal” times, my family and I live and spend most of our time in Highland Park with my kiddos attending a wonderful private school in the area. Weekends are typically spent at our beautiful family ranch in Athens, Texas. My company, ZUBI’S, is headquartered on our organic ZUBI’S farm on our family ranch, allowing me to be at the ranch on a regular basis in order to effectively and efficiently run my organic ZUBI’S manufacturing facility and grow a lot of our hard-to-source ingredients. 

Pre-COVID, I was happily redesigning my home in Dallas, and while it was stressful and hectic, I thoroughly enjoyed it. On Wednesdays, my husband and I would meet with our design team to discuss all aspects of the home. It was quite thrilling, and actually a ton of fun! Unfortunately, once the pandemic hit, our redesign was paused and things in our life shifted.

All the exciting time spent on picking out fixtures, what walls were being torn down, the colors and styles of furniture and wallpaper came to a screeching halt, leaving me with bare, construction-filled home.

The ‘New’ Normal

I accepted this project would be put on hold for some time but the feel of the home was lacking and almost depressing. Therefore, recently and in order to ease the “empty” feel of our unfinished home, I opted to rent some beautiful furniture from CORT for our primary living areas. I highly recommend this company; the wonderful (and excellent condition) furniture allows me and my family to feel “at home” as we await the time for our redesign project to resume. 

Now that life has shifted us to the ranch on a regular basis (due to COVID), I have redirected and focused my redesign passion to our ranch house. It, of course, has turned into a larger project than I could imagine, but as people joke with me, I tend to go all-in and do things BIG!

So here I am juggling renovations, preparing for school and homeschool, being a supportive and involved mom and wife, running a booming and bustling company, ZUBI’S … We can do it all, right??!

We Can Do It All (With Plenty of Help!)

Absolutely not! From my previous post, I was asked on numerous occasions how I manage to do it all. Let me be very clear — I do not do it all — or at least I do not do it all alone!

I manage a lot of these responsibilities with my fantastic teams and a super supportive husband who let me “do me.” In addition, I am thankful for having a wonderful co-parenting relationship with my twins’ dad and stepmother. This allows us to have flexibility when making important decisions concerning my kiddos. 

How do I manage the craziness of my life, whether family, kiddos, work, etc.? I start by prioritizing most important to least important.

Right now, my family’s spiritual, emotional, and physical health and well-being are No. 1, followed by my company, and so on. I always put No. 1 and No. 2 first before tending to other things — if these other things end up taking longer than planned, well … that is life. This structure of priorities helps me be the mother, wife, business leader, and friend that I want and strive to be. You may not be walking into a flawlessly designed home of mine anytime soon, but hey, that’s OK! 

Uncertainty: The Future Normal

Staring into the abyss of the future, with the pending elections, COVID-19 calamity, and economic uncertainty, I am dedicated to doing everything I can for the health, education, and well-being of my family.

Per Dallas County’s recent announcement regarding schools, I am fully prepared and ready for Louis and Liliana to start their second-grade school year in September. But due to the unknowns and uncertainty, I will supplement their school year with homeschooling beginning in mid-August. Like I said before, plan for the worst but hope for the best.

Over the last few months, both kiddos enhanced their learning through summer school — my daughter, Liliana, continued with her “Take Flight” courses for her dyslexia and my son Louis worked on developing his executive skill arsenal (he’s my very active, non-medicated, ADHD-diagnosed munchkin). I highly recommend these skilled educators and training systems, and if you’re interested in learning more, please let me know!

In preparing for the kiddos’ August homeschooling (and potentially longer if things change), I have chosen Critical Thinking Curriculum as the educational program that best suits learning and enrichment for my 2nd-grade twins.

In addition, I have found the following resource helpful — Varsity Tutors — and will use this as supplemental instruction not only during our homeschooling but also as another resource once in-person school begins.

The Classroom Learning Environment

To be honest, I am quite concerned with the kiddos learning in the new “normal” classroom environment. Will they absorb as much as with the added distractibility from masks/social distancing and with the added non-verbal stress of the hard-working educators who tirelessly help manage these unprecedented situations? My heart aches for these teachers and administrators like never before and no words can truly express my appreciation for them. 

No matter the learning environment — whether in person or homeschool — I intend to work with my kiddos to ensure their learning objectives are met. Here’s how:

As I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoy and approve the web-based Varsity Tutors option. Varsity Tutors’ educators do a fantastic job of addressing and explaining new concepts and topics. You can actually form a “Learning Pod” for enrichment classes, personalized academic instruction, or both, and also recruit students from the same school or class, matching you with the best online instructor for their needs. It’s really remarkable!! 

Seek Support Where Available

This leads me back to the question of how do you do it all — family, school, businesswoman, friends, etc? Again, I do not do it alone. With my growing business and being an entrepreneur, I find very little spare time to dedicate to teaching Louis and Liliana. Thankfully, I have the two best nannies who go above and beyond, but in the end, they are not educators. Currently, I am training both of these fantastic ladies on exactly what to do with each kiddo (learning styles and objectives), so that they will be ready to assist with teaching for our mid-August start.

Of course, I will teach when I can and when necessary and be the one to review all of the kiddos’ work, but these ladies will be a tremendous help so that the kids can learn all while I work and hustle for my company, ZUBI’S.

If their school in Dallas has to retreat to e-learning at any point in time, a brilliant friend of mine, Dana, will help run a learning pod with school directed e-learning. She is a dear mom friend and our kids attend the same school. She runs @fishbowllearning and will hopefully help work with my children for the rest of their academic lives before college in some capacity. 

If you plan to homeschool full time, there may be other options that best fulfill your needs. I would suggest beginning your research with https://hslda.org/legal for the laws needed to run a homeschool program and familiarize yourself with the learning methods available. Since no two families are the same and every child has his or her unique learning style, you will want to do a little trial-and-error to determine which method or program best suits your kids’ manner of learning. Check out the following regarding different learning methods. Hopefully, this list is easy to follow and helps you find the best approach for your family. 

Real-Life Learning on The Ranch

Lastly, one unique part of my kiddos’ make-shift homeschool program is an emphasis on real-life learning and application — such as learning about different mammals and their habitat, exploring trails and discovering nature, understanding mechanics and engineering with building exercises, and learning about farming and planting right on our ZUBI’S Organic Farm.

No matter where you may be teaching your kids, you too can implement some of these learning tools with Gardenuity for a hands-on experience. They have all kinds of fun and exciting planting programs that will make lifetime memories for the whole family! (Again, I’m not sponsored for any of these companies I mention but love sharing wonderful ideas and solutions with you.)

Here are just a few of the exciting things the kids and I have planted in our home garden with the help of Cody Robson:

  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Lemon Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Sunflowers

As the adage goes, “The world is your oyster.” So let us all take this time to make the most of the many things in our lives.

Be sure to follow my journey on @sarahezubiate and stay up to date with all things ZUBI’S by following @eatzubi.

And if you missed it last week, I’m doing a giveaway with some of my favorite school time supplies. Enter here to WIN

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